Imagining a Jose Quintana trade to the Yankees

Now that the Yankees have filled their designated hitter and closer needs through free agency in the form of the soon to be 37-year old Matt Holliday and flamethrowing Aroldis Chapman, respectively, Brian Cashman's focus shifts to filling out the remaining holes in the 2017 Yankees roster. Namely, adding another middle reliever (likely one of the left-handed variety) and, more importantly, bringing another impact starting pitcher on board to fill out the rotation. No name screams more of an obvious than the Chicago White Sox's newly crowned ace, left hander Jose Quintana.
Photo Credit: Al Bello | Getty Images

It's clear that the Chicago White Sox, led by GM Rick Hahn, are in full rebuild mode after shipping off their ace Chris Sale to Boston and starting center fielder Adam Eaton to Washington in trades at the Winter Meetings this past week. By doing so, Chicago was able to acquire both the number one positional player prospect (Yoan Moncada) as well as the number one pitching prospect (Lucas Giolito) in all of Major League Baseball. It would appear they are already looking to punt on the 2017 season and prime the organization for a full revival over the next three to five years. As such, an asset like Jose Quintana – who is under team control for another four years at a very affordable $38 million – is a prime trade asset for Chicago to their full re-stock of their farm system.

However, let's get one thing straight right off the bat. Jose Quintana will not come cheap. The value he offers versus the salary he will command through the 2020 season is nothing short of a steal.

The BBB's Phil Akre opined in a piece last month that the Yankees should avert their focus from dealing their young pieces for proven veterans. After all, do any of us really think the Yankees are one or two players away from being serious World Series threats in 2017? I certainly don't. The window opens up in 2018 when the young guys will start adjusting to life as big leaguers, when the big contracts of Alex Rodriguez (who will still be paid a hefty $21 million in his advisor role this year) and CC Sabathia will finally be off the books, and will continue into 2019 after the Yankees are expected to make a huge splash in the ultra deep 2018-19 free agent class headlined by Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

So why make this move now? Why should the Yankees risk moving potential cornerstone pieces now for a player who's best year might be spent in a rebuilding year? Well, simply put, stud left-handers who offer team friendly contracts aren't always dangled on the market by a team begging to make deals. Jose Quintana represents this opportunity. Quintana is at the top of his game right now and he'll come with four seasons of team control, commanding a very affordable $10.5 million and $11.5 million in 2019 and 2020, respectively. This would allow the Yankees to lock up a top-of-the-rotation guy for below-market value in years where they might just clear the luxury tax threshold and re-set their standing with regards to taxpayments. It also allows for some added protection in the event Masahiro Tanaka exercises his opt-out at the end of this season and the Yankees are un-able to re-sign their ace.

Let's take a look at the numbers, according to FanGraphs.

Since the start of the 2013 season, Jose Quintana has produced an 18.1 WAR, good for seventh in all of Major League Baseball over that span. To put it into perspective, that represents a figure better than recent Cy Young Award winners Jake Arrieta, Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel as well as that of Giant's ace and postseason legend Madison Bumgarner over the same span. Woah.

Quintana has also offered great durability, throwing the 12th most total innings with the seventh most starts since the beginning of 2013. The guy is as steady and reliable as they come.

Of course, all this only goes to inflate his trade value, and I'm not sure the Yankees have the pieces in place – or are willing to deal the ones they do – necessary to make such a trade come to fruition without completely undermining the recent re-stock of the farm system.

Hahn would likely ask the Yankees for at least three of their top 10 prospects in order to facilitate such a trade. He did, after all, ask the Yankees for Gary Sanchez and more in initial trade talks for Chris Sale leading up to this past season's trade deadline. No thanks.

While Rick Hahn has every right to ask for the moon when dealing his valuable pieces, I'm not sure Brian Cashman will be looking to undo so much of his hard work of the past five months. Maybe a package centered around Jorge Mateo, Jordan Montgomery/Dietrich Enns and Brett Gardner gets it done, but I really doubt that's the case. It's more likely the White Sox refuse to entertain trade talks unless either Sanchez, Gleyber Torres, or Clint Frazier are included, and I don't think that's something I, or Cashman for that matter, can get behind.
Jose Quintana with the Tampa Yankees in 2011. Photo Credit: Mark LoMoglio
Although Jose Quintana's return to the Yankee organization is definitely an idea that has me licking my chops, ultimately, I don't see such a deal ever getting done. The Yankees are too committed to the youth movement and the process of building from within. With tons of quality young arms already in house and no real likelihood of winning it all in 2017, I see the Yankees only kicking the tires on Quintana, but deciding to move on without making any deal when all is said and done.

Article by: Andrew Natalizio

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